Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Update to Representative Jimmie Smith's False Claim

Regarding the cliam by Rep. Jimmie Smith that the Florida legislature cannot submit its members to drug testing due to a Supreme Court ruling on "elected officials," has weighed in on the issue.

Their conclusion: "Smith's claim can be decided by the Truth-O-Meter. It's False."

The Miami Herald has also come to the same conclusion, stating, "Jimmie Smith and other supporters of the bill didn't produce any proof that drug abuse was rampant in the state work force. They just wanted to look like tough guys." Article here.

Previous blog post on this new drug testing law:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Health Care is a Human Issue

Sometimes we all get caught up in technical issues, or legal arguments.

It is important not to forget that it's really all about people.

See this story:

Will the Republicans and Tea Party be telling that little girl to get a job and quit freeloading?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Health Care Is Interstate Commerce

Opponents of the federal health care law argue that it goes to far for the Constitution's grant of power to regulate intestate commerce.

There is an article at the Boston Globe that shows just how intertwined health care is with interstate commerce, and the consequences of each state coming up with their own widely differing solutions.

An example:

The doctors and nurses in the emergency room of Holy Family Hospital in Methuen routinely treat patients who lack health insurance. 
How can this be, given that Massachusetts requires its residents to obtain insurance and has achieved near-universal coverage since its landmark health-care law passed in 2006? Simple: many of the uninsured showing up at Holy Family hail from across the state border, a mere three miles away in New Hampshire, which has no such mandate.
. . .
Uninsured New Hampshire residents using the emergency room account for 11 percent of the hospital’s bad debt each year, said Lester Schindel, president of Holy Family.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Inspirational Message" in Florida Schools

There is a new law in Florida designed to reduce drug use and return respect and civility to schools. It was recently passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.

This solution to drug abuse took two years of work in getting it passed. According to a sponsor, who said that the moral decline started when state sponsored prayer in schools was outlawed , "Before we removed inspirational messages, the No. 1 problem was talking out of turn. Now, it's drug abuse."

So now student led "inspirational message" are going to fight drug abuse? How long will it take before the number on problem again is "talking out of turn"?

Of course, this is silly. It was (and will be) a lot of time spent on something that will achieve nothing at all, but will cause all kinds of hard feelings and conflict.

When we have people this stupid in the legislature, is there any hope for sensible policy being passed at all?

The great majority of people who contacted Governor Scott had urged him to veto the bill.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Romney's Sampling of States for Health Care

On March 23, 2012, while campaigning in Louisiana, Mitt Romney said, "This presidency has been a failure, and the centerpiece of that failure is this piece of legislation back here, Obamacare." According to  Nia-Malika Henderson and T.W. Farnam at The Washington Post,
"I'm going to return to the states the authority and the responsibility that states have always had to care for their poor and their uninsured," Romney said. "The solution for Massachusetts is quite different than, let's say, the solution for Texas."
Now that he mentions it...

NPR recently had a couple of segments on its All Things Considered program on the state of Health Insurance in Texas and Massachusetts.

For Texas, listen here:

For Massachusetts, listen here:

According to the blog article at The Washington Post mentioned above, Romney didn't really talk much about the plan in Massachusetts, which he helped create as governor. That's would be inconvenient, because "Obamacare" is kind of like a clone of that. Given the figures that NPR cites, RomneyCare seems to be hugely successful in getting the state's people insured. And "the solution for Texas" seems to be to leave as many people as possible uninsured and at risk. And Romney thinks that's just fine.

What local circumstances could there be in Texas that makes it preferable that the health insurance situation there be in such a miserable condition?

Since Romney has vowed to get rid of "Obamacare" which is like the plan in Massachusetts, it is clear that for the American people as whole, Romney would prefer the level of coverage that we see in Texas.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Anti-Female Steamroller continues

New Hampshire is now on the bandwagon. In their zeal to stick it to Obama, they have joined the war on women.

See this article:

Note that there is a video in that article. You might want to check that out.

Does anybody really believe this is about "religious freedom" or "saving costs"? And if so, which one?

In the video for that article above, notice that one of the questioners suggested the use of condoms? Does that lady not realize that some members of the Catholic church (and some other religions as far as I know) frown on the use of condoms as a method of birth control? Will the church now rise up in indignation for this public insult to the church and all the Catholics of the world? Am I being silly? Yes, I am. So is that stupid, self-righteous woman who made such a suggestion.

Florida Lawmakers Turn Down Free Drug Testing

Check out the offer that was made to the Florida legislature to have free drug testing--of themselves. Suddenly they don't like drug testing any more.

Rick Scott Signs Drug Testing Bill

The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has now signed the bill requiring random drug testing of Florida workers.

This is the law in which the legislature exempted themselves and the governor from its requirements.

There will certainly be a law suit challenging this law's constitutionality, and that suit should be won without any problems. See this discussion.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Corruption of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Many may have heard of Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff who is looking into the birth of Barack Obama.

What his supporters may know less about is how corrupt this man is. He has general disdain for human rights. See this article in The Atlantic.

Even less well known may be the criminal records of his appointed posse.

Tea party members view this thug as an American hero.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Drug testing and Jimmie T. Smith's lies

Let's say you serve in the Florida legislature and you want to pass a law that violates people's constitutional rights, but you want to make sure that the law doesn't apply to you. What to do? It's simple. You completely ignore the Supreme Court case that shows you are acting illegally, but then you rely on that very same case to argue that it protects you!

When the Florida legislature passed the bill requiring general drug testing for all state workers, our representatives and senators conveniently excluded themselves from this requirement. Representative Jimmie T. Smith stated that this was because a U.S. Supreme Court case has held that requiring elected officials to submit to the test would violate their rights. Because Mr. Smith was a supporter of this new bill, it is an unspoken premise of his that the Supreme Court's decision applied only to elected officials, and does not apply to other state employees.

Mr. Smith is being dishonest on this, and the people of Florida deserve to know the truth on this issue.

The Supreme Court case that Mr. Smith was referring to is Chandler v. Miller, 520 U.S. 305 (1997). In that case, Georgia passed a law requiring elected officials to pass drug tests as a condition of service. The court ruled that the law was unconstitutional, in that it imposed an unreasonable search without special circumstances being present. The court did not limit its reasoning to elected officials, as Mr. Smith would have the people of Florida believe.

The court stated first that laws such as these impose a search on state workers, bringing into play the federal constitution's provisions on searches. A search must be "reasonable" the court said, and that requires that either there is an "individualized suspicion of wrongdoing," or there are "special needs."

In this case, there is no individualized suspicion of wrongdoing. That is, workers are not tested on an individual basis because of a reasonable belief that any particular individual has violated some law with drug use. Instead, the law requires all workers to be subject to random testing, and those tested are just unlucky, rather than being suspected of crimes. So this test fails.

The court then turned to the issue of "special needs." The court examined precedents, and concluded, "[the] special need for drug testing must be substantial--important enough to override the individual's acknowledged privacy interest, sufficiently vital to suppress the Fourth Amendment's normal requirement of individualized suspicion.... Georgia has failed to show, in justification of [the law], a special need of that kind." This case was different than other cases which upheld suspicion-less drug testing, because the other cases dealt with issues such as law enforcement, and certain jobs where safety could be severely compromised by the use of drugs. The court held that there was no showing of such special needs, and the law was therefore unconstitutional.

Nowhere in any of the court's opinion did it rely on any distinction between elected officials and other state workers. I cannot fathom how anybody can truthfully claim the court did rely on such a distinction.

Now, in Florida's case, Mr. Smith relies on a case to exclude drug testing for elected officials, when that case does not say what he claims. Ironically, the very case he attempts to rely on will be the case used to strike down the law that he and the Florida legislature did pass. That the Georgia law targeted elected officials did not limit the reason it was struck down. Instead, the court's reasoning applied to all state employees, absent individual "special needs." Mr. Smith's argument is like taking a case that holds an owner of a dog liable for the dog's bites, and claiming that it would not apply to the owner of a bear for the bear's bites.

Elected representatives should not be lying to the citizenry regarding their actions. And they should not willingly violate the Constitution as clearly interpreted by the court systems. In this case, Mr. Smith cannot claim to be unaware of the case in question. He cited it for an inappropriate purpose. It is inconceivable that he didn't know what the case actually held. He simply lied about the effect of the case.

We may have grown jaded and expect our politicians to lie to us, but that doesn't make it right. And when the lie is used to justify granting an exemption to themselves, it's even worse. When our politicians lie to us, it's important that somebody point out the truth, so the voters can decide whether that politician should continue in the position of trust that we have granted them.

References: (Chandler v. Miller)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Birth Control in Arizona

The Huffington Post reports:
Arizona legislators have advanced an unprecedented bill that would require women who wish to have their contraception covered by their health insurance plans to prove to their employers that they are taking it to treat medical conditions. The bill also makes it easier for Arizona employers to fire a woman for using birth control to prevent pregnancy despite the employer's moral objection.
What is it with this constant war against women lately? If this bill passes, women could have to prove to their employers that they want insurance coverage for contraceptives, but they won't use it for birth control purposes.

Rick Santorum Promises War on Pornography

On Rick Santorum's web site, he promises a vigorous war on pornography if he is elected president. He says pornography causes profound brain changes. See here.

But Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune points out that with the rise of Internet porn, the incidence of rape has declined:
A state-by-state study by economist Todd Kendall of Clemson University found that "the arrival of the Internet was associated with a reduction in rape incidence. However, growth in Internet usage had no apparent effect on other crimes." He concluded, that "in contrast to previous theories to the contrary, liberalization of pornography access may lead to declines in sexual victimization of women."
So it looks like profound changes in the brain are not the only thing resulting from porn exposure. Another effect is less sexual violence against women. If Santorum has his way, this will change.

Rick Santorum Says Dutch Euthanize their Elderly

As reported by The Atlantic:
Rick Santorum claimed that 10 per cent of the Netherlands' deaths were from euthanasia, 5 percent forced, and that "elderly people in the Netherlands don't go to the hospital" or, if they do, wear bracelets saying "do not euthanize me," all of which is false.
A Dutch reporter asked a Santorum spokesperson (video included) about this, and she imitated a broken record, not really addressing the issue of the false claim.

More information is here, along with a video of Santorum making his claims.

Women's Health Disaster in Texas

In an effort to punish Planned Parenthood (because it provides abortions), the state of Texas has prohibited the organization from treating Medicaid patients. This violates federal law funding Medicaid by discriminating against providers on the basis of a non-Medicaid paid service.

The result is that under federal law, Medicaid funding for Texas must be terminated.

This jeopardizes health care for 130,000 low income women in Texas who rely on Planned Parenthood for services like cancer screening.

Republicans are blaming the Obama administration, but it has been pointed out by the Huffington Post:
But an HHS spokesperson told reporters on Thursday that this was not Obama's decision and that the administration's hands are tied on the issue. “Medicaid law is very clear; a state may not restrict patients’ choice of providers of services like mammograms and other cancer screenings, if those providers are qualified to deliver care covered by Medicaid. Patients, not state government officials, should be able to choose the doctors and other health care providers that are best for them and their families. In 2005, Texas requested this same authority to restrict patients’ choices, and the Bush Administration did not grant it to them either.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Contraception and Health Care Costs

There is a report that concludes that making contraception more available reduces overall health care costs to society, and thus satisfies the tenets of "fiscal conservatism". According to the article at The Atlantic:
Every dollar that our society spends on preventing unintended pregnancies produces us "savings of between two and six dollars," according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. The savings come from averting health care, child care, and other costs associated with unplanned pregnancies. That's a rate of return of 100% to 500%, making it one of the safest and most profitable investments anywhere. 
"Unintended pregnancies are disproportionately concentrated among women who are unmarried, teenaged, and poor," the report finds. Those are all groups of people who could probably use help affording contraception. If you happen to dislike the idea of your money going to help poor, unmarried, or teenage women, consider the fact that you will not just get your money back, you'll at least double it and at most quintuple. You'll enjoy this profit in the form of lower health care costs and lower taxes.
The article goes on to note:
When Texas cut $73 million from state family planning services, the increase in unplanned pregnancies ended up costing $230 million in additional Medicaid burdens, according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Budget Board.  
So, contraceptive use helps women keep control of their reproductive decisions, reduces the number of abortions, increases health overall in society, and saves money. This makes sense to me!

Wall Street exposed?

A major player in Wall Street has written a damning expose of the firm he worked for, Goldman Sachs. You can see it here, from the New York Times.

It is, at the least, interesting reading.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Drug testing for state workers

The Florida legislature just approved random drug tests for state workers. They excluded themselves, because they said that would violate their rights.

No. I'm not kidding.

Florida minimum wage preserved

The proposal to lower the minimum wage for Florida restaurant workers has died, and will not become law--at least not this year.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association says it will try again later.

It looks like Senator Nancy Detert, a main proponent (I think she was the sponsor, or was at least the lackey of the Association) of the bill is now claiming she didn't support it, and she says she didn't know exactly what was in the bill. Yeah, right....

Previously Detert said she and others were being brave and bold in their efforts to gut the pay of restaurant workers.

Story here:

Another news source here:

A powerful editorial previously written on this issue:

If you want to be "brave and bold" yourself, you can write to the senator who championed this bill here:

The big video of Obama

The tea party, or whoever, must be really desperate. How can they put out something about the "smoking gun" video and expect people not to laugh at them?

See the story and video here:

Really, people, this is pathetic.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Limbaugh's contribution to the Democrats

Rush Limbaugh is helping the Democrats with the reelection this year. He's showing how hateful the Tea Party and many other Republicans are. Maybe the Democrats can buy some advertising space on his program, to help him stay on the air so he can spew more of his hatred.

And the others in the race

I see Santorum is not the only one trying to appeal to fanatics. The others are trying to get their votes, too.